Transforming Your Physical Store Into a Customer Experience Center
The pandemic has brought about so many changes to consumer shopping behaviour. For one, people have learned to embrace digital shopping, with e-commerce sales growing 30% year over year, according to McKinsey. But brick-and-mortar retail is not dead, with the same McKinsey report showing a 5% YOY growth for in-store sales.
However, to survive post-pandemic, brands with physical stores must reimagine the in-store customer experience. One way you can do this is to consult a solutions provider for digital signage in Dubai and transform your store into a customer experience centre.
The Need to Reimagine the In-Store Experience
Why must you change your physical store retail strategy? Because, now, you need to overcome the inertia that people have developed from mainly staying at home.
Yes, people’s retail spending is going up, driven primarily by higher-income and younger consumers. But these very same people have wholeheartedly embraced digital sales channels, as evinced by the double-digit YOY growth of e-commerce sales.
But on the ground, the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern for the public. For instance, out-of-home entertainment and travel consumption remain down because of the fears caused by new COVID-19 virus variants.
If you look at the complete picture, you will realize that people are now again spending and shopping, but they remain concerned about their health and safety. As such, they do most of their spending online. But if they must, they are willing to return to stores to shop in person.
There are two lessons here for brick-and-mortar store owners.
They must strengthen their digital sales channels to take advantage of the upward e-commerce sales trend.
They do not need to close their physical stores, but they must incentivize their customers to shop in person.
And even when COVID-19 concerns are completely over, people would have become accustomed to digital sales channels. At that point, there would be fewer barriers to in-person shopping. Even so, consumers would probably still need a compelling reason to shop in person when they could just as conveniently shop online.
Then there’s also the difficulty of keeping customers loyal. According to McKinsey, around 75% of consumers reported engaging in new behaviours because of the pandemic.
Such changes in behaviour include switching brands, and 40% of consumers surveyed reported they’d done just that. Older consumers did this primarily for value and availability, while younger consumers did so chiefly for value and purpose.
The customers’ tendency to switch brands is both a threat and an opportunity. It’s a threat because it threatens to erode your existing customer base. Still, it’s an opportunity because you may be able to convince your competitors’ customers to switch to your brand.
Indeed, while the pandemic is still raging (but more so after the pandemic), businesses need to reimagine the customer experience in their brick-and-mortar stores. That is the only way they can ensure that their customers will return to shop in person and that these customers will find their brands difficult to replace.
Yes, businesses must also strengthen their digital sales channels and e-commerce shopping experiences, but that’s a discussion for another article.
Re-Imagining In-Store Experiences With a Customer Experience Center
You can make customers feel excited about visiting your store by providing a unique experience that they can get only through in-person shopping. And one of the various ways you can do this is by converting your retail outlet to a customer experience center.
What Is a Customer Experience Center?
A customer experience center is an interactive space that lets people experience the brand for themselves and enjoy memorable experiences.
Apple provides one of the most ubiquitous examples of the customer experience center strategy. Notice that Apple stores don’t have shelves upon shelves of mobile phones and gadgets. Instead, they have tables with the latest Apple gadgets and accessories that customers can try and play with when they visit.
Apple stores also have very modern and minimalist vibes, reinforcing the image that the brand likes to project. They are also very open and spacious, welcoming and inviting, encouraging people to stay for the experience.
Customer Experience Center Implementation With AV and VR Technology
Customer experience centers do not work only for electronics stores. With the help of audio/video, virtual reality, and customer experience architects, you can transform your retail store into a one-of-a-kind customer experience center.
- Brand Story and Brand Exhibit
You can use digital screens on your store’s walls, dividers, and other available spaces to tell your story and reinforce your brand.
A clothing brand can set up a large screen as a focus wall, and it can show a looping video of the brand’s latest collection being shown on the runway. You could design the store so that all paths seem to lead to that focus wall. You can also elevate the focus wall a bit for clearer viewing and even more emphasis.
On the perimeter walls, one can show static or dynamic slides of the brand’s story, core values, affiliations, and other materials to reinforce the brand’s unique selling points.
You can be as creative as you want. There are many different types of digital screens. There are even flexible screens that can wrap around curved walls and fixtures.
- Interactive Screens
Another simple implementation would be setting up interactive screens for your customers to experience your brand.
The interactive screens will act like mirrors. Your customer can stand in front of the “mirror,” and the display will scan her and create a virtual representation of her. Then, she can choose outfits from your inventory and start trying them on virtually.
She can also choose an actual outfit from a rack and put it up for the mirror to “see.” The RFID tracking system in place will then scan the item and find its digital equivalent from the store’s database. This way, the customer can also virtually try actual items in the store.
This type of customer experience is not limited to clothes. Customers can virtually try sunglasses, hats, scarves, jewelry, shoes, and even makeup, too.
- VIrtual Runway Experiences
Retail outlets can also create VR fitting rooms. Customers can put on VR goggles, try on outfits, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories from the outlet’s inventory, and walk a virtual runway.
The virtual experience can provide instant feedback and helpful suggestions according to the customer’s preferences as well.
A Customer Experience Center for Your Retail Store
The pandemic has made people shift to digital shopping. To remain relevant, brick-and-mortar stores need to provide stellar in-store shopping experiences.
One of the ways you can do this is by setting up a customer experience centre that will attract in-person shoppers, reinforce existing customers’ loyalty to your brand, or win customers away from your competitors.
Transforming Your Physical Store Into a Customer Experience Center